Thirteenth-seeded Arizona heads to Norman, Okla. to face fourth-seeded Oklahoma in the NCAA Super Regional
May 22, 2012
NCAA Tournament Central
Date Time (CDT) Opponent Location
Friday, May 25 1:00 p.m. No. 4 Oklahoma OU Softball Complex (1,000)
Saturday, May 26 11:00 a.m. No. 4 Oklahoma OU Softball Complex (1,000)
Saturday, May 26 (if necessary) No. 4 Oklahoma OU Softball Complex (1,000)
FOLLOW THE GAMES
T.V.: Friday's game will be televised by ESPNU and Saturday's action will be broadcast on ESPN. All games simulcast on ESPN3.com.
Live Stats: Find Gametracker link for all Super Regional games at http://www.ncaa.com/brackets/softball/d1
Live Updates: Twitter: @UA_Softball (twitter.com/ua_softball) & Facebook: Arizona Athletics (facebook.com/arizonaathletics)
THIS WEEK: For the eighth straight season, Arizona has advanced to NCAA Super Regional, half of those appearances competed against Oklahoma. The Cats and the Sooners have met three times previously in the round, all in Tucson. Arizona swept the Sooners in 2005, beat the Sooners two games to one in 2008 while Oklahoma swept the Wildcats in 2011. 2012 marks the 26th consecutive season that Arizona has competed in NCAA action. The Wildcats, who are 151-43 all-time in the NCAA Championship, are 78-6 in regional play and still have not lost a regional game since Super Regionals were implemented after the three-game sweep of the Tucson Regional last weekend. With a win this weekend, Arizona will move to the Women's College World Series for the 23rd time in 25 years. The Cats are 12-5 in Super Regionals and 61-32 in WCWS games all-time, including eight national championships. The Sooners have won four straight contests against Arizona, all in 2011, including a Super Regional sweep. All-time, UA holds a 25-13 advantage. The teams have split 10 games in NCAA action.
Oklahoma: The Sooners (48-8, 19-5 Big 12) are ranked fourth by both the NFCA and USA Softball and earned the fourth seed in the NCAA Softball Championship. Oklahoma, the Big 12 Champion, is a winner of six in a row and 11 of its last 12 games. The Sooners have belted a program-best 91 home runs and bat .321 as a team. In the circle, OU boasts a stellar 1.19 team ERA. Oklahoma has outscored its opponents this season 367-75. Oklahoma is led both in the circle and at the plate by Keilani Ricketts. At the dish, Ricketts is hitting .406, 15 home runs, 13 doubles, 43 RBI and has an .841 slugging percentage. On the slab, Ricketts is 31-7 with a 1.05 ERA and 371 strikeouts in 240.2 innings pitched. Georgia Casey (.393 avg, 9 HR, 9 2B, 31 RBI) and Laura Chamberlain (.353 avg, 26 HR, 67 RBI, 2 2B, 1 3B, .865 slg%). Pitcher Michelle Gascoigne chipped in this season with a 16-1 record, 1.49 ERA, 139 strikeouts and 103.2 innings pitched.
HEAD COACH Mike Candrea: Arizona head coach Mike Candrea is in his 27th year at the helm of the Arizona softball program with a career record of 1,310-294-2 (.816). A winner of eight national championships (1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2007), Arizona has made 22 trips to the Women's College World Series under his guidance, missing just twice in the last 24 years (2004, 2011). In 2012, Candrea became the sport's fastest ever, and second all-time, to reach 1,300 wins. Under Candrea, Arizona has a spectacular postseason record of 151-43. An even 50 All-Americans with a staggering 90 total citations have played in the program since Candrea took over.
THE RANKINGS: Arizona finished the regular season ranked 17th in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll and 15th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. The Wildcats started the season ranked eighth in both polls (its highest ranking of the season) and finished 2011 ranked 11th in both.
RECENT RESULTS: The Wildcats cruised to three wins in the Tucson Regional, outscoring its opponents 26-5 and earning a trip to the NCAA Super Regional. UA run-ruled North Dakota State 11-0 before taking a pair of five-run games vs. Notre Dame, 7-2 and 8-3. Brigette Del Ponte went 7-for-9 (.778) with a home run, a triple, five RBI, three steals and five runs scored during the weekend. Kristen Arriola (.600) and Karissa Buchanan (.500) each batted at least .500 for the regional.
Friday, May 18: Cats Take NCAA Opener in Five, 11-0 - Region top-seed Arizona used a big inning to beat North Dakota State, 11-0, in first-round action of the NCAA Softball Championship regional Friday evening and move on in the Tucson winner's bracket.
The Cats made the most of five hits in the five-inning game, two of them by senior second baseman Kristen Arriola to drive in six runs.
Saturday, May 19: Cats Move to Regional Title Round - Arizona moved into the NCAA Regional championship game with a 7-2 victory over Notre Dame in Saturday afternoon softball playoff action at Hillenbrand Stadium.
Brigette Del Ponte went 4-for-4 with a home run and four RBI. Her first-inning home run, her 15th of the season, gave Arizona a lead it would not give up.
Sunday, May 20: Cats Off to Super Regionals - Arizona (38-17) socked 14 hits to beat Notre Dame (40-16), 8-3, to win the NCAA Softball Championships regional here and earn a trip to Norm an, Okla., for a Super Regional against the Oklahoma Sooners next weekend.
Arizona, the No. 13 seed in the NCAA Championships, meets the No. 4 seed Sooners (48-8) in the first game of the Super Regional at 11 a.m. (MST/PDT) Friday, with the second and potential final game in the best-of-three series slated to start at 9 a.m. (MST/PDT) Saturday. Friday's game will be televised by ESPNU and Saturday's action will be on ESPN.
Shelby Babcock (21-9) gave up seven hits against the Irish, walked one and struck out three for a steady performance in the circle and her teammates clouted four home runs, two by Chelsea Goodacre, to keep UA on top.
RECENT RESULTS AT THE NCAA SUPER REGIONAL: Oklahoma swept the Cats with ease in 2011, denying Mike Candrea his 22nd straight trip to the Women's College World Series. The Sooners scored the first 11 runs of the series before Arizona plated two in the final inning of the series to avoid being completely shut out. OU took game one 6-0 and game two 5-2 despite only out-hitting Arizona 16-15 combined in the series.
May 27, 2011: Cats Fall to Oklahoma in Super Regional Opener - A rizona had plenty of opportunities, but could not score a run against Oklahoma and ace Keilani Ricketts. The Cats fell to the Sooners 6-0 and pushed UA to the brink of elimination. Arizona will have to win twice Saturday to earn a trip to the Women's College World Series.
Arizona stranded the bases loaded twice and left two on twice more. The Wildcats notched nearly as many hits, seven to Oklahoma's eight, but could not string enough together to plate a run.
Lauren Schutzler and Kristen Arriola had a couple of hits apiece in the loss.
May 28, 2011: UA Suffers Season-Ending Loss to OU - Mike Candrea coached teams had made 21 straight Women's College World Series before Oklahoma came to town for this weekend's Super Regional. The Sooners needed just two games to keep Candrea from making his 22nd straight WCWS appearance and Arizona from making its 23rd appearance in the last 24 years. Oklahoma beat Arizona 5-2 on Saturday to finish off the Cats after beating them 6-0 on Friday.
Assistant Coach Larry Ray coached the teams in 2004 and 2008 while Coach Candrea coached Team USA. Ray guided the Cats to a WCWS in 2008 but failed to take the team in 2004.
The Cats dropped their first Super Regional in the round's history, falling to 6-1 in the round, posting an overall record of 12-5 in the games.
Much like Friday, Arizona had its chances. It left 11 runners on base and was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. UA got its hits, but hardly ever in the right spots. UA and Oklahoma each had eight hits.
Arizona's lone runs of the Super Regional came in its last trip to the plate of the weekend, off a two-run Lini Koria home run with two out in the visiting half of the seventh.
UA finished the season 43-18. The 18 losses tie for the third most in Candrea's tenure at the UA (The 2008 and 1989 teams lost 19 games apiece). The 43 wins are the second most since 1987 (The 2008 team won 41 games).
RECENT RESULTS VS. OKLAHOMA: In addition to Arizona's two meetings with Oklahoma in the Super Regional, the Cats and the Sooners met twice during the 2011 regular season. OU also won those games by margins on 11-1 (5) and 5-3.
February 12, 2011: Oklahoma Hands Arizona its First Loss of Season - In just her second collegiate start, Shelby Babcock had the task of facing the No. 9 team in the nation, Oklahoma (4-0). The Sooners got to Babcock for 11 runs on 10 hits and Oklahoma dominated Arizona 11-1 in five innings.
It was a rare combination of poor offense and poor defense, as Oklahoma ace Keilani Ricketts had as many hits herself as she limited the Wildcats to as a team, two.
March 17, 2011: UA Falls to Oklahoma at Judi Garman - No. 7 Arizona dropped its first game at the Judi Garman Classic, failing to get revenge vs. No. 9 Oklahoma (24-6), a team that beat it 11-1 in five innings earlier in the game.
The UA registered just five hits and had only one hit through the first four innings. Only one Wildcat had more than one hit: Karissa Buchanan with two.
NEXT WEEK: Arizona and Oklahoma battle for the right to advance to the Women's College World Series. Arizona is hoping to get to its 23rd WCWS in the last 25 years. The Women's College World Series is held May 31-June 6 in Oklahoma City.
IN NCAA ACTION: Here are current Wildcats' stats in NCAA action. In the last four years, UA is 20-8 in the tournament.
FREE BASES: Arizona has struggled all season by allowing free bases to the opposition, with bases on balls being the most frequent reason; the Cats have walked 190 batters, 132 more than Oklahoma. However, in the last six games, Arizona has strayed from that trend. Here's a breakdown of Arizona's last 12 games:
4/27-5/6 (6 games): 50 free bases (35 BB, 5 HBP, 10 E)
5/10-5/20 (6 games): 13 free bases (5 BB, 3 HBP, 5 E)
Karissa Buchanan: Is on a six game hitting streak in which she is batting .650 (13-for-20) with three RBI, seven runs scored and four stolen bases. After an underwhelming start to the season, Buchanan has come on strong. The senior has had a hit in 14 of Arizona's last 17 games and is batting .471 in that span. The game prior to the beginning of the 17-game stretch, Buchanan's average bottomed out at .242 on April 10. The senior is Candrea's new leadoff hitter; Buchanan had never led off for Arizona in her previous 200 career starts before leading off each of Arizona's three NCAA games. In 77 career NCAA at-bats, Buchanan has compiled an impressive .442 batting average. Her postseason average is 78 points better than her career average of .364.
Shelby Pendley: Hit her 19th home run of the season on Sunday, one of her two hits on the weekend. The figure is already good for t18th on Arizona's all-time list. Pendley needs three more to break the freshman homer record, set by Brigette Del Ponte (21) in 2010.
Brigette Del Ponte: Went 7-for-9 (.778) including 7-for-her-first-7 in the NCAA Regional with a home run, a triple, five RBI, three stolen bases and five runs scored. On the season, BDP has 31 extra base hits (14 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR) while she has hit just 21 singles on the season. For her career, Del Ponte has 98 XBH (45 2B, 1 3B, 52 HR) and only 73 singles. Just a junior, Del Ponte is already on the career top-10 list in home runs with 50. Additionally, Del Ponte, who set the single-season record with 23 doubles in 2011, is one shy of breaking the top-10 in two-baggers as well.
Kristen Arriola: Recorded six RBI against North Dakota State on Friday to tie a career high. Arriola hit a grand slam in the contest, her third of the season; the rest of the team have a combined two grand slams (both by Brigette Del Ponte). In the three games this weekend, Arriola hit .600 with two doubles and a home run.
LEARNING QUICKLY: Freshmen lead the team in batting average (Wilson - .354), at-bats (Wilson - 181), hits (Wilson - 64), home runs (Pendley - 19), total bases (Pendley - 121), slugging percentage (.720), hit-by-pitch (Goodacre - 10) and sacrifice hits (Suitos - 9).
MAKING THE PLAYS: The Wildcats boast a fielding percentage of .977, which would be tied for fourth best in school history if kept up. That said, the Wildcats have had trouble on that side of the ball recently. Arizona led the nation in fielding percentage for much of the year, but have faltered since.The Cats have committed 15 errors in the past 12 games. That is more than half of the total errors Arizona had in the previous 43 games (19). Still, UA has committed only 34 total errors on the season, currently tied with the 2001 team for the fewest in program history.
SUCCESSFUL SWIPES: Arizona has collected 57 stolen bases on 62 attempts this season, a 92% success rate. Arizona stole seven bases in regional.The 57 swipes are already more than the last four seasons when the Cats stole 37 bases in 2011, 36 in 2010, 29 in 2009 and 43 in 2008. Fifty-seven will not touch the school record of 136 set in 1998, but still a high number in the current context. The only five caught-stealings has the potential to set a Wildcat record for fewest CS's. The 2009 (29-for-36) and 1986 (11-for-18) squads were each caught seven times. The four runners caught stealing are best in the conference. Karissa Buchanan (20-for-20) leads the team and is tied for third in the conference.
HEATING UP: In the last six weeks, Arizona has averaged 8.7 hits per game, including nine double-digit hit games. This came on the heals of a March lull when Arizona went 16 games without cracking double-digit hits and averaged 6.5 hits per game.
DOMINATION: For teams that swept their regional, Arizona (21) and Oklahoma (28) compiled the two highest margins of victory in the regional round.
FORTY: For the fun of it, assume Arizona's rained out and canceled games - a three-game series at Baylor and Garman Classic games against BYU, Louisiana and DePaul in Fullerton - got played. UA was on a seven-game winning streak when it poured in Waco, and on a nine-game winning streak when skies messed up the action in Fullerton. At any rate the missing games are one reason UA may not have reached the 40-victory plateau last weekend. Arizona had 40 victories or more in 25 consecutive seasons from 1987-2011, and it has a chance to do so again.
300 ISN'T EASY: Arizona's .303 team batting average would be its 17th above the .300 level in the last 20 years if it can find a way to get something like at least 14 hits in Norman this weekend - a real challenge against Keilani Ricketts, who gave up five hits in 17 innings pitched last weekend in three Regional games against Lehigh, Tulsa and Oregon State. UA was below .300 in 1992 (.265), above the mark for nine years, hit. 291 in 2002, hit above .300 for two years, hit .297 in 2005 and again below .300 with a .289 mark in 2007.
STARING AT THE STATS: The Cats' 57 stolen bases are its most since the Caitlin Lowe-led club swiped 101 in 109 tries in the 2007 NCAA-title season. Lowe had 49 SBs that year, second-most in school history behind Alison McCutcheon's 67 (70 att) in 1998 and tied with Vivian Holm (49-53 in 1987). Brigette Del Ponte has added base running to her arsenal, with 14 stolen bases in 15 tries after stealing three bases each of her first two years, while redshirt freshman Chelsea Suitos' 13-14 rate equates to a UA career top 10 thievery level if she continues to progress... Shelby Babcock (2) and Kenzie Fowler (0) issued just the pair of walks in 71 plate appearances last weekend against North Dakota State and the two games against Notre Dame. In fact, in the past six games the pair has walked only six batters in 157 plate appearances. This string of strike-throwing came after the duo walked 20 batters in 102 plate appearances at UCLA May 4-6...
TURNSTILE TALES: Arizona drew 53,880 fans to Hillenbrand Stadium in 24 dates this year, giving it a fourth consecutive average above 2,000 and the fourth-best draw in program history. The per-game record is 2,570 when UA drew an NCAA-record 77,129 in 30 home dates a year ago. Three crowds above 2,600 this year didn't crack the Top 30 crowds at Hillenbrand, which more or less ushered large-crowd college softball into being in the 1990s along with Fresno State and Louisiana-Lafayette.
OUCH: Arizona hitters have been plunked by pitches 41 times this year, third-most in school history behind the 47 bruises afflicted in 2009 and the 43 welts created in 2002. Former UA slugger Leneah Manuma was one of the most prolific get-hit batters in UA history, with 13 and 16 free bases in her two-year career (2001-02) courtesy of opposing pitchers. Slugger Jenae Leles got popped 15 times in 2008. The leaders this year are Chelsea Goodacre and Jessica Spigner with 10 apiece.